Bobcat swim coach Lile steps down

Keith Lile, who has guided Aberdeen to several high state finishes, has resigned after 10 years as the Bobcat boys swim coach.

The 59-year-old Lile announced his resignation at the team awards banquet on Sunday. He will continue as the facilities and maintenance director of the YMCA of Grays Harbor.

While saying he has received outstanding support from the swimmers, parents and school administration, Lile said the nature of the job has changed in recent years.

“Things have gotten so administrative, it’s taken some of the fun out of it for me,” he said. “And I haven’t had a vacation at Christmas or Thanksgiving for years. I have a daughter out of the country and I want to spend more time (visiting) her.”

Bobcat turnout numbers increased significantly during Lile’s decade at the helm, with 29 swimmers completing the 2012-13 season. Ironically, that proved to be something of a double-edged sword for Lile.

“The size of the team has (resulted in) less individual attention,” he said.

Lile said he plans to continue working individually with local Masters swimmers.

“More deck work and less administrative work will be wonderful,” he said. “It’s time to step back, regroup and get better as a coach. I want to spend more time researching. What I’m trying to do is get better as I get older —and I’m getting older. I lost some enthusiasm and I didn’t want to carry over that to another season.”

Lile succeeded Frank Rupert as coach at a time when Aberdeen was operating in a combine with Hoquiam and (briefly) Montesano and was known as the Grays Harbor Buccaneers.

Aberdeen was a separate entity during Lile’s most successful season, in 2008-09. The Bobcats went unbeaten in dual competition, captured the district 2A title and finished second behind perennial state power Sehome of Bellingham at state. The Bobcats had top-four finishes in seven state events that season.

Lile, however, believes his most recent team — which placed sixth at state — might have been his best.

“This season, we managed to get more kids in more individual races in the finals of state than we ever did before,” he said. “These kids did a great job. I think, overall, this team was faster than we were when we got second.”

A native of Tacoma, Lile graduated from high school in Southern California before returning to the Northwest to attend Pacific Lutheran University. Although he studied under longtime PLU swim coach Gary Chase (ironically, an Aberdeen grad and a member of the school’s Hall of Fame), he wasn’t a member of the Lute swim team.

A versatile all-around athlete, Lile has enjoyed considerable competitive success in canoeing and kayaking. He finished in the top 10 in the 1996 senior kayaking nationals. He was a past champion of a now-defunct Hoquiam triathlon, is an avid cyclist and is a former assistant soccer coach at Aberdeen.

Lile said his experience as swim coach has been overwhelmingly positive.

“I say to the kids when they first come into the program that there are three things I want them to focus on,” he said. “One is respect for themselves, then respect for their teammates and their space and respect for the opposition. When they walk in the door, they can take care of all (their personal baggage) and work as hard as they can for two hours. Those who do those things inevitably do very well and I also try to follow those things in my daily effort.”